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Denied Seat on Award Flight (Partner Airline did not confirm booking)

Denied Seat on Award Flight (Partner Airline did not confirm booking)

Old May 9, 2018, 8:48 am
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2018
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Denied Seat on Award Flight (Partner Airline did not confirm booking)

Hi All,

I am new to the community, and am very frustrated with United right now. I am hoping someone can offer me some insight on my situation.

Like many others, I have (or should say, I had) a lot of Chase Ultimate Reward points. I need to book a 1 way flight from Munich to Chicago. I searched for award flights for my desired itinerary, and saw that I was able to fly from Munich to Chicago, connecting in Budapest, with the Budapest to Chicago (10 hour flight) being in business class. Note, both flights (from Munich to Budapest, and Budapest to Chicago) were on partner airlines (Lufthansa and LOT Polish Airlines, respectively), with only the LOT Polish Airlines Budapest to Chicago being in business class. The fare was advertised to me as 70,000 United Miles, which seemed like a great deal. Note, the fare advertised was a "Business Saver Award' fare class.

I subsequently transferred nearly 70,000 miles to my United account from Chase, and bought the ticket. 1 day later, I received an email stating that I was unable to be granted a seat on the LOT Polish Airlines flight, and to call United.

Long story short, I called United, and they said that the LOT Polish Airlines flight has no open seats, and they did not accept United's request for a seat for me. They basically told me I was out of luck, and will need to book an entirely different itinerary. I've complained about how this is false advertising on the phone to United for nearly two hours now, and have asked that they place me on the direct United to Chicago flight in business class for the same 70,000 miles. They are simply refusing to offer me any compensation for this glitch in their system.

Has anyone else experienced this odd situation, and do I have any sort of recourse I can take? Or am I simply out of luck?

Thanks, United!

Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 9, 2018 at 11:00 am Reason: Using symbols, spaces or other methods to mask vulgarities is not allowed.
Scott Endress is offline  
Old May 9, 2018, 8:59 am
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by Scott Endress
Hi All,

I am new to the community, and am very frustrated with United right now. I am hoping someone can offer me some insight on my situation.

Like many others, I have (or should say, I had) a lot of Chase Ultimate Reward points. I need to book a 1 way flight from Munich to Chicago. I searched for award flights for my desired itinerary, and saw that I was able to fly from Munich to Chicago, connecting in Budapest, with the Budapest to Chicago (10 hour flight) being in business class. Note, both flights (from Munich to Budapest, and Budapest to Chicago) were on partner airlines (Lufthansa and LOT Polish Airlines, respectively), with only the LOT Polish Airlines Budapest to Chicago being in business class. The fare was advertised to me as 70,000 United Miles, which seemed like a great deal. Note, the fare advertised was a "Business Saver Award' fare class.

I subsequently transferred nearly 70,000 miles to my United account from Chase, and bought the ticket. 1 day later, I received an email stating that I was unable to be granted a seat on the LOT Polish Airlines flight, and to call United.

Long story short, I called United, and they said that the LOT Polish Airlines flight has no open seats, and they did not accept United's request for a seat for me. They basically told me I was out of luck, and will need to book an entirely different itinerary. I've complained about how this is false advertising on the phone to United for nearly two hours now, and have asked that they place me on the direct United to Chicago flight in business class for the same 70,000 miles. They are simply refusing to offer me any compensation for this glitch in their system.

Has anyone else experienced this odd situation, and do I have any sort of recourse I can take?Did you Or am I simply out of luck?

Thanks, United!

Did you get a confirmation with a confirmed ticket number? Or was it just a preliminary confirmation with message that we give partners 48 hours to confirm the ticket? If you have a confirmed ticket number, then United can easily accommodate you on a flight from MUC to ORD (either on UA or LH). If they have already done it, I do not see what is the issue. It is not a bait and switch by united if the partner refuses to honor space. United is doing the right thing by offering you a seat on the non-stop. Not sure what your concern is.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 9, 2018 at 11:01 am Reason: Quote updated to reflect Mod edit;
IADFlyer123 is offline  
Old May 9, 2018, 9:03 am
  #3  
 
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Originally Posted by IADFlyer123
Did you get a confirmation with a confirmed ticket number? Or was it just a preliminary confirmation with message that we give partners 48 hours to confirm the ticket? If you have a confirmed ticket number, then United can easily accommodate you on a flight from MUC to ORD (either on UA or LH). If they have already done it, I do not see what is the issue. It is not a bait and switch by united if the partner refuses to honor space. United is doing the right thing by offering you a seat on the non-stop. Not sure what your concern is.
Sounds like LOT wasn't able to confirm a seat, and I'm guessing OP never got a ticket number.

OP - at least you found this out now. Many people will book and then not bother to check back. I'm guessing you never got a valid ticket - you'll see when you try to book a similar itinerary, that "United will have to request from (airline name)" and that it may take up to 48 hours to confirm. It sounds like they couldn't confirm. You don't have a lot of recourse other then finding another valid itinerary that can be booked. It would be a stretch for UA to put you on the nonstop (it would take a whole lot of effort, and luck, and I wouldn't recommend).

Also OP - it's not "a glitch". Inventory is not static, sometimes things change, it may have never even existed in the first place, etc. Frustrating no doubt, but UA notified you immediately (one day after booking). You aren't due any compensation. You're not that out of luck either, I have no doubt you will be able to find some type of saver award for those two cities (UA mega hub to LH hub). Maybe not right now, but eventually.
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Old May 9, 2018, 9:03 am
  #4  
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Yes this has been reported quite a bit lately. There's some problem with the interface between UA and LO such that space shows, but reservations won't ticket.

No, there's really nothing you can do about it except keep trying and see if you can get it to ticket eventually. Some have reported eventual success.

Originally Posted by IADFlyer123
If they have already done it, I do not see what is the issue. It is not a bait and switch by united if the partner refuses to honor space. United is doing the right thing by offering you a seat on the non-stop. Not sure what your concern is.
That's rather simplistic. UA knows there's a problem with LO space showing but not ticketing.

Unfortunately DOT will do nothing about this. Though it is a form of bait and switch when it causes the customer to transfer Chase points to UA which cannot be transferred back. UA gets paid based on the transfer, but the customer is stuck with points rather than the ticket he thought he was getting.
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Old May 9, 2018, 9:07 am
  #5  
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No, I did not get a confirmation / confirmed ticket number after purchasing. Below in italics is the email I received about 12 hours after booking my flight on United.

United is not offering me a seat in business class on the non-stop flight from Munich to Chicago. They are suggesting that I instead book an economy class fare on the direct flight using 30k points. A business class ticket on the same flight is 155k points. I only have 80k points available. The original flight I booked was for 70k points on the partner airline, connecting in Budapest, in business class, so I asked for United to place me on the direct flight in business class for 70k points since their website had false advertising. Now I am stuck with all these points in my United account that I can't transfer back to Chase.

Thank you for booking your travel on .



We are unable to ticket the above-referenced reservation. Some airlines require 24 hours to confirm a seat on their flight. In this case, we were unable to confirm your flight on Lot Polish Airlines. If you are in the US, please call us at 800-UNITED1 (800-864-8331) so we can assist you in making alternate arrangements. If you are outside of the US, our international phone numbers can be found at the following link: ."



I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.



Thank you,



United Airlines

Reservations Processing Center
Scott Endress is offline  
Old May 9, 2018, 9:58 am
  #6  
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I believe UA discloses that partner flights take up to 24h to confirm, so there's no bait and switch here.
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Old May 9, 2018, 10:08 am
  #7  
 
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Did you search for other routings that have saver availability? You could also just book the XN award and keep an eye out for saver in J, then call to change the booking. More saver availability usually opens up closer to departure. You do have options, there's more ways to get from MUC to ORD than the two you've mentioned
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Old May 9, 2018, 10:11 am
  #8  
 
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You can always file a DOT complaint to let the DOT know this is going on. Perhaps there will be a rule requiring more disclosure in the future.
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Old May 9, 2018, 10:12 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Scott Endress
...so I asked for United to place me on the direct flight in business class for 70k points since their website had false advertising...
It's not false advertising. LOT indicated space available (and other airlines) to United and the United adjusts what it shows. At some point before you booked, those seats were taken (it could have been by someone redeeming thru another airline or maybe even LOT removing the space). In either case, UA is showing inventory that would have disappeared at the next update. United does not immediately mirror actual availability. That's why they explicitly say it needs time to confirm availability with other carriers.
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Old May 9, 2018, 10:32 am
  #10  
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To clarify, I am most upset/frustrated that I transferred a ton of Chase Points to UA to purchase this business class flight. And since there is not a seat on this flight, I am now left with these points stuck in my UA account since you can't transfer them back to Chase.

There certainly are other flight routes from MUC to ORD but business class options are 155k points. So I would have to fly economy, which is what I am trying to avoid.
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Old May 9, 2018, 11:00 am
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Scott Endress
To clarify, I am most upset/frustrated that I transferred a ton of Chase Points to UA to purchase this business class flight. And since there is not a seat on this flight, I am now left with these points stuck in my UA account since you can't transfer them back to Chase...
Unfortunately there are a couple of one-way streets like this. Another is having to buy a higher-fared ticket class in order to use an upgrade certificate without knowing the upgrade will clear a waitlist. I guess the difference is, you still have the miles. If an upgrade doesn't clear, one is still out the $ differential between the coach ticket one could have bought and the more expensive coach ticket that was bought.
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Old May 9, 2018, 11:12 am
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by Scott Endress
No, I did not get a confirmation / confirmed ticket number after purchasing. Below in italics is the email I received about 12 hours after booking my flight on United.
United is not offering me a seat in business class on the non-stop flight from Munich to Chicago. They are suggesting that I instead book an economy class fare on the direct flight using 30k points. A business class ticket on the same flight is 155k points. I only have 80k points available. The original flight I booked was for 70k points on the partner airline, connecting in Budapest, in business class, so I asked for United to place me on the direct flight in business class for 70k points since their website had false advertising. Now I am stuck with all these points in my United account that I can't transfer back to Chase.
The Business seat they are offering for 155K is an "everyday" award. A Business "saver" award on UA metal is only 60,000 miles....If you can't immediately find a a saver award on UA or partner metal that you like, I would advise you to book the economy warmed at 30K and waitlist the business award. It may or may not clear, but is probably your best bet. There's an entire thread on this method, but the basic situation is you book the economy award, then call UA and have them waitlist the business award and withdraw the additional miles to do so. At that point, you are a ticket business flyer waitlisting (not upgrading) for a seat....and the additional miles are refunded if the waitlist doesn't clear. See this thread: Consolidated "Waitlist for Award Seats Questions/Issues"
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Old May 9, 2018, 11:33 am
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by Scott Endress
To clarify, I am most upset/frustrated that I transferred a ton of Chase Points to UA to purchase this business class flight. And since there is not a seat on this flight, I am now left with these points stuck in my UA account since you can't transfer them back to Chase.

There certainly are other flight routes from MUC to ORD but business class options are 155k points. So I would have to fly economy, which is what I am trying to avoid.
It's definitely not ideal and unfortunately is one of the downsides of transferring points, There are rare cases where a partner will agree to send the points back to Chase but that is exceptionally rare and usually only in circumstances where the airline thinks they are somehow at fault. I don't think that your case would rise to that level.

Originally Posted by hughw
The Business seat they are offering for 155K is an "everyday" award. A Business "saver" award on UA metal is only 60,000 miles....If you can't immediately find a a saver award on UA or partner metal that you like, I would advise you to book the economy warmed at 30K and waitlist the business award. It may or may not clear, but is probably your best bet. There's an entire thread on this method, but the basic situation is you book the economy award, then call UA and have them waitlist the business award and withdraw the additional miles to do so. At that point, you are a ticket business flyer waitlisting (not upgrading) for a seat....and the additional miles are refunded if the waitlist doesn't clear. See this thread: Consolidated "Waitlist for Award Seats Questions/Issues"
Was going to be my exact suggestion. Wait-listing for saver J space is probably the best bet given the circumstances. If this is far enough in advance there is a decent chance that some will open up. Or even find a routing through Frankfurt (FRA) where there is a 2nd UA operated non-stop to ORD daily potentially increasing space available. If you regularly check the UA flights for I space you can pay the change fee to switch to the other flight and get the J seat for the long flight.
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Old May 9, 2018, 11:44 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH
It's not false advertising. LOT indicated space available (and other airlines) to United and the United adjusts what it shows. At some point before you booked, those seats were taken (it could have been by someone redeeming thru another airline or maybe even LOT removing the space). In either case, UA is showing inventory that would have disappeared at the next update. United does not immediately mirror actual availability.
That's not what's going on. There have been multiple reports of LO itineraries not ticketing over the past week or two. There's clearly a problem but as usual any fix seems to be very low priority.
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Old May 9, 2018, 11:58 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee
Yes this has been reported quite a bit lately. There's some problem with the interface between UA and LO such that space shows, but reservations won't ticket.

That's rather simplistic. UA knows there's a problem with LO space showing but not ticketing.
It isn't that it is a problem (I define the problem as you stated as something that is supposed to work but doesn't).

With rare exceptions - airlines don't talk to each other in real time. You need real time availability to work in order to ticket immediately.

Airlines typically use an intermediary system (such as ITA) that they message rough fare and award availability and airlines update the intermediary system at different time frames (seconds, minutes, or even hours). This isn't just an issue with award seating - it is an issue with airfare also when booked on another airline.

UA polls ITA (or some other system) - and that system, yep - at the last time it was updated there is availability. You say - I'll take it. Who knows when the intermediary system was updated or if other airlines or passenger were trying to grab the seat. Regardless, UA sends a message to the other airline - they simplistically say - yep, you got it - or no. Hence the lag.
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